Nature Cruise and Kayaking Under a Waterfall in Paihia


352 Days on the Road

This morning, we need to squeeze an activity in before we have to travel all the way to Whangarei Hospital today for Robin to get another check-up on his broken arm. We don’t think a trip to the hospital counts as an activity for our 365 Days: 365 Activities, right? Well, after you see what happens later today, maybe you will argue it might! Anyway, speaking of broken arm, we also need an activity that is doable with just one arm! We think we’ve found just the activity!

A one-of-a-kind kayak-transportation boat

Our adventure today starts from the Waitangi Harbour in a wide inlet where the Waitangi River meets the ocean. Our ride is easy enough to spot between the riverside bushes, where we can see a stack of kayaks seemingly floating down the river. As we walk down the jetty for a better view, we realise that they are attached to the front of a long boat unlike any boat we have seen! With paddle boards sitting on top too, this boat looks like it’s ready for some fun times.

We meet the owner of the boat and one of the team behind Bay of Islands Cruise & Kayak, Taylor, who tells us that him and his partner actually built the boat themselves for the very purpose of transporting people and water toys down the river! Once we get down the stairs into the boat safely – usually, we wouldn’t need to mention this fact, but Robin doesn’t have a great track record with stairs – we can start cruising down the Waitangi River.

Reflective scenery along the Waitangi River

Once again, the Winterless North of New Zealand has provided a perfect day for it. The sun is out and the water is so placid that we have perfect reflections decorating the water. First, this includes the other boats in the harbour, like old-looking Maori canoes, which then turns to scenery of forested hills and flat wetlands of mangrove forests.

Birds, birds and more birds on our nature cruise

This landscape of shallow waters (perfect for Taylor’s flat-bottomed boat to cruise over) and mangrove forests provides the perfect habitat for heaps of wading birds! We watch long-legged herons and stilts lifting their legs high over the muddy flats, while shags and rare terns quickly fly close to our boat in regular intervals. This is a great place to see New Zealand’s weird and wonderful seabirds and wading birds all in one place.

Floundering with the flounders

It’s not just the birds that draw our attention, while we travel across the shallowest of waters, we can see the river all the way to the bottom where Taylor is looking for flounders. These are flat fish that look a little like a stingray and a fish mashup. The first few he spots swim away quickly, but we do find one stubborn flounder that refuses to move, which is excellent for us! We get prime viewing of the crazy-looking fish seen super clearly through the water!

After Taylor points out more interesting sights seen alongside the river, we then come across a few trees of nesting shags. Parents are feeding their chicks! We have to wipe a tear from our eyes!

Another stunning day in the Bay of Islands

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Face off with Haruru Falls

Just around one more corner, the finale awaits: Haruru Falls! There it is, this wide curtain waterfall is where the fresh water falls into the saltwater and continues out to sea. After we get a closer look at the falls with all its spray with the boat, we then get ready to kayak!

These open kayaks can be used as a single or a double, so Laura gets one to herself, while Robin is basically chauffeured around by Taylor in a double. We are impressed by how far the Bay of Islands Cruise & Kayak team will go to cater their trips! Usually, people would get in their chosen kayak or paddle board earlier on down the river, but paddling Robin all day wouldn’t be that fun…

Kayaking up to the waterfall

So now the waterfall fun begins! We head straight for the falls, going as close as we dare into them. The spray gets heavier and the current stronger the closer we get to the falls, but it gives us a challenge! We could stick our whole bodies into the waterfall if we wanted to… Emphasis on the “wanted”, we don’t feel like driving to Whangarei completely soaked.

Limbo under the trees and back down the river

After having some good splashy fun and playing in the rainbows, we explore a little more of the forested canyon the waterfall has left behind. Large cliffs tower above us, while pohutukawa trees stretch into the water, giving us something to limbo under.

We get plenty of time on the water before Taylor gets us back on the boat and back down the river for one last dose of nature. We’ve loved the combination of a nature cruise and the playfulness of kayaking under a waterfall. Now, we have the not-so-fun task of going to Robin’s second hospital appointment for his broken arm.

Robin gets a cast that all the school kids are going to be jealous of!

We say thanks and goodbye to Taylor, then hit the road to Whangarei Hospital. An hour and a half later, Robin is getting an x-ray, concluding that his arm is still healing well and that he can now change to a fibreglass cast. Hurray! He has lots of colours to choose from, and this is where it sort of gets ridiculous…

Robin leaves Whangarei Hospital wearing a blue cast with a red spiral and silver glitter. He looks like a “Fabulous” Captain America, but at least we left the nurses feeling entertained by his nonsense. (At least his travel insurance with Orbit Protect is paying for this nonsense at not him).

On the subject of superheroes, you will find us flying through the sky tomorrow when we go skydiving! See you then!

Having a blast at Haruru Falls

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See you tomorrow!